Military "Natural Running" clinic interest?

Discussion in 'Military Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by Go_Blue, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. Go_Blue

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    Good evening BRS!

    After a few months of military training (spent entirely in boots and racing flats, no fun!), I'm back home at my first assignment and very eager to get back into BFR. A little background: I have been minimalist running since Nov '09, and been barefooting since Jul '10. I love barefooting the most, but still find myself running in flats and VFFs on occasion, especially if PTing in uniform. I can barefoot on my own personal time, but can't do so on the base track or while doing PT in uniform, as we are required to wear shoes.

    Given the increasing popularity of minimalist footwear around here, and the base's policy of allowing VFFs in the gym (not the case across the entire Air Force), I think it would be very beneficial to establish a "natural" running clinic. I use that term as I would like to cover barefoot technique, benefits, and its use as a training tool, but ultimately I suppose the focus would have to be on minimalist runners and using barefoot training to improve how they run in their preferred footwear.

    I regularly get questions from folks when I wear my VFFs to the gym, whether I'm doing strength training or running. A lot of people are interested in the benefits associated with barefoot/minimalist running. I always see new people in VFFs around the gym, and still others I see in other minimalist options. But very rarely do I see the same person running in VFFs more than once. I also see folks trying them out and exhibiting bad form, including heel striking and running up on the toes. I worry that people are trying minimalist running with VFFs and end up hurting themselves due to poor form or doing too much, too soon. I also feel that offering a barefoot/minimalist running clinic would be beneficial to the folks currently experimenting with it, as well as those thinking about giving it a try.

    So to the military types (and anyone really, I would love all the feedback I can get), do you think a seminar/clinic of this nature would be something of interest on a base? I'm thinking about pitching this next week after speaking with some of the gym staff and HAWC specialists.

    I've looked at some of the other clinic threads here on BRS to get some ideas. Items I would want to cover in the clinic (taking suggestions):

    - Introduction/Increasing popularity of barefoot/minimalist running

    - Reasons for barefoot/minimalist running

    - Benefits: how it can improve running in whatever your footwear choice is/what your running goals are

    - Demonstration: I'd like to get them either outside or on the indoor track barefoot, have them do some exercises and get a feel for barefoot mechanics

    - Footwear options

    - Training regimens, taking it slow



    I'd also love to get at least one BFR expert (two would be great) to come in and offer their experiences, especially relating to technique and how barefoot or minimalist running has impacted their running. But whether or not that could happen (and who we could get) might depend on the type of response we expect.

    I think there's potential here, but I'm curious to what other BRS members think, particularly the military members and if you guys think something like this would fly on your base. I think it's time for something like this to be offered, since minimalist running is getting more popular in the military community, particularly mine. I think that if people are going to try it anyway, why not embrace it and give them the proper tools and resources to set them up for success?



    Thank you everyone!
     
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  2. Piggyback RidePlease

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    I'm no expert and have no

    I'm no expert and have no experience of your kind of work place. Remember that what I say now is with the benefit of hindsight. When I decided to get into running again I really wish (now) that there had been a demonstration (by someone who knew their stuff of course), that I could go to in order to see what I need to do. A picture paints a 1000 words etc.

    First of all I went to a "running" shoe shop, asked for advice, they got me to run without shoes in the shop and I automatically toe plant BF all the time. I bought the heel planting clunkers I was told were the ones for me. Could not understand why I couldn't land on my toes so changed to heel planting like all the other "runners". Had a great time thinking I was getting good. Started trying to ramp up the pace, found it harder than I thought it should be. Got plantar fasciitis for 18 months (after a spate of other injury incidents). I now had time to read, not being able to run, so picked up stuff about Chi and Pose running and then tried Pose, got more bad shoes (that were closer to what I thought I needed), got the form wrong and got injured. Wasted so much time (another 2 years off).

    Now I'm doing barefoot and go by what I read mostly in the forums. I know my form is still a bit off but at least I feel there's a chance I will "get it" soon.

    I'd have liked to skip the Chi/Pose (and the preceding clunker phase without a clue running) by being able to go to a simple (probably single session) demonstration / talk. I think it would have saved me years of hassle.

    I can see you encountering resistance from people who already think that they know it all but that's no reason not to try. I'd say go for it, you may be doing lots of people a big favour even if they don't realise it.
     
  3. FreeYourToes

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    The 25th Infantry Division,

    The 25th Infantry Division, US Army already is doing what you are talking about. They have a run form and analysis class that you can take. Having taken it already, they mostly talk about why you should run forefoot-midfoot and not heel strike. They teach you some warmup techniques and stretches. They basically took all of Dr. Leiberman's youtube videos and work and compiled a class from it. They dont tell you that you have to run barefoot or run in a certain type of shoe, just why certain shoes will benefit you more then others. The class is voluntary, but the class is a requirement to be allowed to wear "alternative footwear" in PT formations, PT uniform, and PT hours. "Alternative footwear" is pretty much minimalist footwear, but the one that everyone wears is the VFFs. Here is the website and the 25th ID policy letter



    https://sites.google.com/site/schofieldatac/home

    http://www.25idl.army.mil/PT/policyletter18.pdf



    The guy who runs the class is Neil Santiago. He could probably point you in the right direction to get something started where you are
     
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  4. Go_Blue

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    Thank you so much for that

    Thank you so much for that info. That sounds very much like what I would like to offer, and I'll probably be contacting Mr. Santiago soon about his program. I asked another VFFer at the gym today - a complete stranger - if he'd be interested in such a program and he was extremely enthusiastic about the possibility. I definitely feel it would be a good baseline for alternative footwear for PT and would get people off to the right start. It's great to see the 25th taking initiative on it.

    My main hurdle will probably be the running "experts" at the Health And Wellness Center, who last I knew, were still very much advocating heel striking as good running form. I'll need to speak with them this week about the possibility of introducing this sort of clinic and see how receptive they are. I wouldn't expect them to teach it - perhaps down the road if they have educated folks they could eventually take it over. Who knows. Just an idea at this point - I have a lot of work to do in the meantime.



    Thanks for the input so far everyone. It's definitely appreciated. :)
     
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  5. stomper

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    This is kind of a tangent,

    This is kind of a tangent, but I've often wondered if running and walking form were part of military training, since some soldiers seem to be carrying so much STUFF: weapons, body armor, etc. Seems like if there were a more efficient way to move, the armed forces would be really interested in it. Just curious..
     
  6. FreeYourToes

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    stomper wrote:This is kind of



    In the 4 1/2 years I have been in the Army, there has been no mandatory training on proper run form, until I took that voluntary class so that I can wear my VFF to PT (I took it 3 months ago). The nearest training of any sort on running, run form, ruck marching (walking X distance with upwards of 90lbs on) is at basic they had me step on a light box to determine what type of arches I had so they could give me the "right" shoe. From there on out it was you better keep up and dont get hurt. I learned a few things about ruck marching from asking others for their input (those who were better then me at it). For myself and my guys, our feet are our main transportation (light infantry) and there is no formal training.
     
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  7. Go_Blue

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    FreeYourToes:What did you

    FreeYourToes:

    What did you think of that class that you took? Was it valuable? I just contacted Mr. Santiago, I'm waiting to hear back from him about what he established. But by your opinion, was it simply something you had to go through in order to wear VFFs for PT, or did you take something away from it?

    I've polled a few people at the gym who wear VFFs, and so far the reception has been very favorable. People were asking me when this would happen, and the best I could do was say it was only an idea at the moment. It would take time to develop, especially with me being TDY for a few months this year. But we'll see, I guess. I'm also waiting to hear back from the HAWC to see if they would be willing to work with me on this or not. I see a lot of potential here.
     
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  8. Warren Dickey

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    Military Barefoot/Minimalist

    Military Barefoot/Minimalist Classes

    I'm a LtCol in the Marine Corps and have been barefoot running since Jan 2010. I have given a couple of Minimalist/Barefoot running clinics at my current Command and have offered my services to the local base gym as well as to the base clinic as a part of their "how to run" program. So far the gym and clinic haven't taken me up on it which sort of scares me since the folks that are in charge of those programs are kind of heavy and don't appear to be all that fit.

    The bullets you covered a few posts up are basically what I go into but I also emphasize that if you choose to go minimalist/barefoot you're basically learning to run all over again. That needs to be kept in mind the whole time. I also start out by telling my story. After having been in the Marine Corps for 24 years I had increasing knee pain, plantar fasciitis, and sore ankles. I ran the Disney marathon in 2009 and was basically broken. Podiatrists I went to just gave me the same old song and dance. Once I began barefoot running it was a new lease on life. I ran the Disney half-marathon barefoot and then the full-marathon the next morning in huarache sandals. I'm going to be running a 50 mile trail run in April because I can run again without all the pain.

    I think in some cases the military services are going to have to be dragged into this whether they like it or not for the good of their people.

    Semper Fi,

    Warren Dickey
     
  9. Go_Blue

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    Thank you for the input,

    Thank you for the input, Sir. I'm looking to speak with someone face to face this week about it, but so far the reaction has been quiet. I'm hoping I get some positive feedback, and if not necessarily that, then at least some level of cooperation. Mr. Santiago has been incredibly helpful thus far, and has provided some wonderful materials and information about his course. A successful program such as that is a great example, and I'm hoping it'll help convince those at my base that this is a worthwhile and necessary program.
     
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  10. Go_Blue

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    Well, after a month of

    Well, after a month of waiting, I finally got a response from the head of my base's Health and Wellness Center (HAWC). She responded with this:

    "The AF Medical Operations Agency is currently developing a Minimalist Running Clinic for all HAWC Exercise Physiologists to brief through regularly scheduled classes. This program looks to be completed within the next few months and when complete, we will begin the standardized clinic at the HAWC."



    So I am somewhat excited about this development, but I'm also a little nervous. I don't know what exactly the AFMOA would include in their idea of what a "minimalist running clinic" should entail. I wrote her back immediately thanking her, but I also included a quick anecdote about the need to encourage early barefoot training as well, and why. I expressed interest in assisting in any way possible, so hopefully this will go well. I'm excited to see the USAF embracing the minimalist movement enough to create a standardized educational clinic, but I worry about whether or not it'll be done right.
     
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  11. Barefoot TJ

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    Blue, I wish we had a story

    Blue, I wish we had a story on this for the front page. I've been hunting around for stuff on this topic on and off for a long time now.

    I hope they understand that minimalist training would require minimalist footwear.

    I understand the need for combat boots...during combat. But for all other times, it would be nice if you guys and gals could let your feet be a little freer and a whole lot healthier.
     
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  12. Go_Blue

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    I agree, TJ, but the military

    I agree, TJ, but the military is one of those establishments that can take some time to come around on certain topics. Some jobs actually require "safety" footwear, so certain specifications on boots are mandatory. But the majority of us don't fall into that category. Newer boots on the market resemble more high top sneakers than actual boots - more flexible, lighter, etc. But I don't really see a day any time soon that the military as a whole would allow us to go to more minimalist footwear.

    But the Air Force looking at and embracing minimalist footwear in a physical training (PT) setting is a huge step forward. I had attended a running clinic in '09 conducted by that HAWC, and the running "experts" there handed out material that advocated heel striking and big old running shoes. So the fact that they're considering this an educational opportunity, instead of writing it off as a fad that should be avoided (as one HAWC employee said), is progress.

    I emphasized the need to try barefoot for the sake of education, so hopefully they'll listen to me. If this develops any further, I'll let you know. I think it'd make for a good story. You might also want to email Mr. Santiago from the 29th Infantry Division's fitness center. He has been running their minimalist running clinic for some time, and he has some great material. If you want a story on the military and barefoot/minimalist running, he might be a great success story for the front page.
     
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  13. Barefoot TJ

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    That would be a good article

    That would be a good article on Mr. Santiago, but I am so swamped right now, I can't even think about. I'll try to place that in my memory bank for later. Thanks.
     
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  14. Dr. Mark

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    Military Troops...stay tuned.

    Military Troops...stay tuned. A project I have been working on for 4 years just got the go ahead.

    The USAF will have running training for their troops!

    We will be doing a clinic at Altus Oct 4-6.



    Lt. Col Mark Cucuzzella

    your BRS "Ask a Doc"
     
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  15. Barefoot TJ

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    Good news!  I think once we

    Good news! I think once we can change the mind of the military (on what is acceptable footwear for certain conditions), then we are a big step closer to barefoot and minimalist acceptance, for those of us on the outside as well.
     
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  16. FreeYourToes

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    Dr. Mark wrote:Military



    Hopefully this is a huge hit and it carries over to all of the services. For a short time when the Army "allowed" Five Fingers, the 25th Infantry Division initiated a 4 hour block of instruction on run form that you were required to take if you wanted to wear the VFFs and other "alternative footwear" in the PT uniform during PT hours. It basically consisted of why you should be a mid/fore foot runner and a few warmup drills filled with a bunch of videos from Dr. Lieberman that you can find on youtube. It was the only training/classes I have ever gotten in the Army on running, and it was not required to take. It amazes me for as much as we run and depend on our feet/legs that there has not been this type of training before.



    Good luck!
     
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  17. poff

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    FreeYourToes wrote:It amazes

    Well said.
     
  18. Busphan

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    Excellent, this is great

    Excellent, this is great news. Looking forward to this in the National Capital Region. I feel this is long over due for all of the services.
     
  19. Go_Blue

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    Dr. Mark - any chance you're

    Dr. Mark - any chance you're coming to Offutt anytime soon? :)
     
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  20. William rivera

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    Blue, I'm new to this forum and highly interested in conducting hpw to properly run and natural/barefoot transition type of training at my base as well. I'm currently stationed in Ft Knox Ky and everything I that I have read from this tread is very similar to what I'm currently experiencing from our mwr folks here and wanted to know if you were able to put something together for your base... Also we're you able to any training materials from mr Santiago (slides, videos, white paper, etc) that you have used to educate others. If you have is it possible you could upload into this forum? Hate to reinvent the wheel if one of us already has created or put together... Thanks!
     
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